Johnny Rush Bowman (Sept 15, 1952 – Aug 19, 1984)

Johnny Rush Bowman Photography FBI Grid AdS

Photography FBI Grid AdS

Virginia State Trooper Johnny Rush Bowman (Sept 15, 1952 – Aug 19, 1984) was stabbed 45 times by an unknown attacker (or attackers) on Aug. 19, 1984, around 415 am after answering the door at his own home in Manassas, Virginia.

The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for this brutal murder.

This is the Case of the Month for October 2018. Let’s help the FBI and this trooper’s family find answers. Bowman’s murder is the only unsolved killing of a Virginia State Trooper in the commonwealth’s history.

Case

Johnny Rush Bowman was stabbed 45 times. He was unarmed but he fought with either the suspect or suspects. They fled on foot but left items behind that will one day lead us to their identity: sunglasses, a wig, and a construction hard hat. This means that we have touch DNA and with genealogy databases we can zoom in on people with similar characteristics. This is the same approach that gave us the identity of the Golden State Killer.

Evidence

The sunglasses, the wig, and the hard helmet might have been props to disguise features. Of the three, the wig seems the most interesting. I do not know what kind of wig was used but a wig can alter a person’s perceived gender, age, and posture.

With the continuous advancements in forensic technology, these items will give up information that will help the authorities. “Back then, Erin Sheridan, FBI Special Agent at the Washington Field Office said there may have been evidence that wasn’t collected “because that was not the norm.” But, she said if Bowman’s killing had happened today, “it would be quite different. The crime scene and the analysis that would’ve been done after would’ve been very different today than it was back in 1984.”

Bowman’s daughter

Johnny Rush Bowman’s daughter, Nikki Bowman, is now a Manassas City police officer. She wants your help in solving her dad’s case. If you click here you can find an interview with her. Note she said several crucial things:

  • now as an adult she thinks that it is strange that her dad answered the door unarmed. He had law enforcement and military training. Yet he apparently didn’t hesitate to open the door at 415am in the morning. This tells me that he didn’t expect any trouble because he knew who was at the door.
  • she believes that what we have heard about the case doesn’t scratch the surface. I think she is right. There is a lot more to this case.
My notes
  • There is a very small chance that Bowman was not the intended victim. Bowman’s brother and his wife lived in the same house. There is always that small possibility that he was mistaken for his brother. It needs to be explored and crossed off the list.
  • This attack was a continuation of something that had happened earlier either during work or in private. Forty-five stab wounds is a very rage-driven, personal attack. Whoever did this had a personal score to settle with this officer.
  • I wonder whether the construction hard hat that was left behind was a generic one or if it had a company’s logo or identification marks on it.
Suspect(s)

There is mention of a suspect in this article however, there never was enough evidence to pursue the case. “State police and the Prince William County commonwealth’s attorney called an unusual news conference in August to say that they were “99.4% certain” that they knew who killed Bowman. In response to inquiries by The Washington Post Monday, Martin, the special agent in charge of the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation in the Fairfax field office, confirmed that the suspect is a member of the state police.”

Forensic options

1: Touch DNA: all items found are worn on the head so they all are great sources for touch DNA. That is a job for the M-Vac.

2: Familial DNA and ancestry databases: this is how the authorities caught Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr. He is known as the Golden State Killer, the Original Night Stalker, the East Area Rapist, the Diamond Knot Killer, and since April 26, 2018, we added: defendant. We now see this technique used in other cases as well.

3: Phenotyping: this technique shows us approximately what the DNA bearer looks like and it can be age-progressed. In the case of Jennifer Bastian, the image gave people an idea what the murderer looked like. DNA sealed it. The cases of Michella Welch and Amber Tinsley were also solved this way. Michelle Martinko and Teresa Sue Hilt are hopefully next.

4: The M-Vac: the M-Vac’s wet vacuuming collection system uses a solution that is sprayed on a surface while simultaneously vacuuming that surface. It creates a “mini-hurricane” that loosens the DNA material which is transferred to the collection bottle and later concentrated on a filter. It picks up particle that traditional cutting and swabbing could not. Surfaces are not limited to clothing but range from concrete, rocks, to leather, cork, all porous surfaces, and even animal skin. It is the current gold-standard for touch DNA collection and has been used in courts successfully. The band inside the hard hat, the nose bridge of the sunglasses, the entire wig, all are excellent sources of information.

5: The Bardole DNA Collection Method: this new method separates and isolates DNA material from small evidence items. The application could include many items that are now difficult to sample like shell casings, fingernail clippings, rings, gun parts, keys, bomb fragments and other small items. How about the nose wing pads and screws on the sunglasses?

Contact information

If you have any information that can help solve Johnny Rush Bowman’s murder please call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or the Virginia State Police at (703) 803-2676.

You can also contact the Virginia State Police Fairfax Field Office at 703-803-2676 or [email protected], or leave a tip online at tips.fbi.gov

All tips can remain anonymous and the search for clues is nationwide.

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In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, sometimes more information can be found online and in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.

If you have any thoughts about this case I encourage you to post them on your own social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. Every time that we mention Virginia State Trooper Johnny Rush Bowman’s name online we enhance his digital footprint.

We must make sure that he keeps his web presence if we ever wish to find answers in this case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.

Thank you for remembering Johnny Rush Bowman with us.

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Resources:

FBI

WTOP

NBC